What Is The Norm?

As Texas and Louisiana is healing and rebuilding their cities from Hurricane Harvey, it reminds me of how things have changed in just a matter of a few weeks.  Before Harvey, we went about our daily lives caring about our own needs and protesting about what offends us.  Individuals did not care about hurting others with his/her words or actions.  That was the norm.  It was normal to see hate in this world, and, for some, they became numb to it.  We just turned off social media or the TV shaking our heads in disgrace.  We never thought to make a difference by putting more love into this world by showing who Jesus is.  We stayed silent and let hate crimes happen all over this nation.  Sadly, I was one of those people who stayed silent.

After Hurricane Harvey hit my little town in Southeast Texas, everything changed.  The hate crimes were not getting the attention on social media and the news.  We were seeing devastation and heartache.  People leaving their homes for safety.  Animals, of all kinds, being rescued out of flood waters.  Ordinary people using their own boats to save those around them.  We saw a nation come together in prayer for those affected by the hurricane.  No more hate crime seen on social media; instead, we saw the hands and feet of Jesus doing their part.  Now, this should be the norm: seeing people help people.  People put down their electronics and started paying attention to the hurt around them.  They did not silence the cries of the help; they put on their rubber boots and got messy.  They stepped into the flood waters and risked their lives for others.  This is what it means to serve others.

If you want to serve, expect to get a little messy, because once you put your heart out there, you will be a part of their messy world.  The world that does not look so neat and tidy.  The world that is shedding tears for their loss.  The stories that can be told about Hurricane Harvey are heart-wrenching and filled with hopelessness.  But, as we have seen, we can build others up by being their for them in time of need.  We can show them their is hope again by extending our hands to those who are hurting.

The norm should always look like the picture of people coming together to rebuild hearts and cities one day at a time.   Let’s put down our phones, tablets, and the TV remote and start being the hands and feet of Jesus.  Let us not forget those who have lost everything and help them rebuild their lives again.  Let’s not be afraid to get a little messy to help someone who needs it the most.

And, I will leave you this….  Natalie Grant, an amazing Christian artist, sings a song called, “Be One”.  Here are some lyrics to encourage all of you to be a part of something bigger than yourself:

It’s time to get our hands dirty
Be love there’s a whole lot of hurting
Calling all hearts
Calling all hands
Calling all feet to take a stand
Why sit around and wait for a miracle to come
When we can be one
When we can be one

When we can be one
A little somethin’
Might feel like nothin’
But in His hands it’s all we’ll ever need
To speak life to the broken
Watch the blind eyes open
It’s who He’s calling you and me
To be

We can be the change, be the hope
We can be the arms that don’t let go
We can be a light in the dark
We are, we are where it starts

 Let us be the “new norm” by showing our love for others each passing day!

Impacted by Hurricane Harvey

I apologize for not writing in the past few weeks.  I live in the Southeast Texas area where Hurricane Harvey dumped 48″ of flood water on us.  It has been a rough past seven days being stuck in my home for over five days.  No power for over 24 hours.  No water in the city until further notice.

After watching videos and seeing pictures of the devastation, it breaks my heart.  Friends and family member have lost everything.  In just one moment, life stopped and tears fell on everyone’s faces all over the world.   Hurricane Harvey is one of the worst storms in history.  For those who were impacted by the storm will be changed forever.

In one week, the nation saw people coming together rescuing complete strangers from their homes.  Animals, of all kinds, were being rescued by boat.  The people in the area used their own personal boats and trucks to get to the areas that needed help.  Ordinary people being heroes.  I am proud to say I am a Texan.  A tragedy hit and rather than thinking about our own needs, people went out to serve others.  They were the hands and feet of Jesus!

No matter how each person was impacted by the storm, please know you are still blessed.  God has not forgotten about you.  He is right by your side and loves you unconditionally.  Yes, it will take time to rebuild, but Texas will come out stronger than before the storm hit.  What the devil meant for bad; God turned it into good.

 

Living Out the Change in your Life

In the past few years, I have written about the importance of change, and how we must embrace it.  Over a year ago, I made many changes in my life.  I changed churches after being committed to one for over three years.  I lost my friends due to this change.  My pastor’s moved after serving under them for several years.  I lost all my leadership roles at the church once I stepped out from being a member.  You see, church was my life.  Besides working, I stayed busy helping the pastors in various projects.  It became my identity.  What I did became who I was.

One Sunday God told me this is your last Sunday here at this church.  In that moment, I was overwhelmed with the change.  I did what I was told and attended church that day for the very last time.  I seemed lost for many months trying to fit in and find my place to serve in a new church.  Even when I was discouraged, I found myself not wanting to give up.  Once I found a church that God led me to, I still mourned over my previous church I attend.  I struggled with my emotions and my thoughts.

Eventually, as I continued to attend the new church on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights, I began to feel like I belonged.  I took two months off from serving to find myself again.  Little by little I took steps into serving in the church as a greeter once-a-month.  In September 2017, I had the opportunity to serve beside another church to help those throughout our community.  In November 2017, I started to help with the youth group on Wednesdays.  I have participated in many Bible and book studies throughout the year.  I am now part of a church that I love and feel honored to serve in.  I have realized that church is not just about works, but it is all about having a relationship with God and being in fellowship with other Christians.  My identity is in Christ and not in what I do.

Change can bring many hardships, but, in the end, we are rewarded for not quitting.  Since this change, I have had to adjust to being in new leadership roles in the church, meeting new people, making new friends, working with a new boss, and financial changes.  My life looks completely different from a year ago, but I am thankful for the changes in my life.  It has helped me to grow personally as well as Spiritually.  I have realized I am a stronger person than I thought, and I can do anything with Christ by my side.

If you are struggling with changes in your life, always remember God is on your side every step of the way.  The journey might not always be easy, but the reward is always worth it.

 

What if….We Were Transparent

“We struggle with authenticity, because we fear rejection. We want the world to see us at our best, because then people are more likely to accept and possibly even admire us.”

BUT, what if we were transparent and allowed people to see us for who we really are. Social media is the worst. Photo-shopped profile pictures. The perfect image of what you want your life to look like. The false image of your family life. What if someone liked you more, because you are genuine? Your flaws and struggles might be exactly what someone needs to see in you, because he/she may have similar issues.

You see, “fear is the enemy of transparency. We don’t like our flaws, and we don’t expect anybody else to. So we work hard at putting up the most impressive front we can.

What if our approach to the perfect life and/or image is the wrong way to live? What if being raw and real is what others want to see you? Are you willing to take the risk to find out?

(Quotes from the book “The End of Me” by Kyle Idleman)

The Bride of Christ

Today, I will be talking to the single women who are longing for their soul mate.

Imagine setting the date for your wedding.  You are in anticipation as you make arrangements and plan for the perfect day.  The cake and food has to be prepared, several dress fittings, guest lists, and all the other details required to make your wedding day special.  This is the moment you have been waiting for all your life.  It has finally come!

Now, imagine it looking a little different.  Instead of man standing there, God is standing as your groom.  In Isaiah 54:5 it states God is your husband: “for your Creator will be your husband; the Lord of Heaven’s Armies is his name!  He is your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, the God of all the earth.”  Close your eyes and visualize you walking down the aisle with your hair down and full of curls, make up is perfect, and wearing a beautiful white gown.  Your emotions are everywhere, because you are walking into the unknown, but, at the same time, you are filled with excitement.  You can barely hold back the tears with every step you take towards your Heavenly Father.  It is a magical moment as you walk closer to God and take His hand in marriage.  You give Him your all, and you allow Him to have control of every aspect of your life.

Just like any marriage, there are things that will be asked of you.  God is asking you today if He has made you single the rest of your life and just be with Him, can you accept His offer?  Do you trust Him enough to be His bride?  Is He enough in your life to feel complete?  Can you give up your own desires to be with Him, and Him alone?  Do you feel worthy enough to be His bride?

Since I am currently single, God has been asking me the same tough questions.  Is He enough in my life that I will give Him my all?  My desires, my heart, my love, and my worship!  Will I accept His offer no matter what my future holds?  Am I ready to walk down the aisle and take God’s hand in matrimony with these terms?  I am praying God’s will be done in my life no matter the outcome.  I am praying that He will always be my husband, my first love!

I am reminded of a song by King and Country called, “Priceless.”  The chorus is powerful.  God is saying to you today:

I see you dressed in white
Every wrong made right
I see a rose in bloom
At the sight of you
Oh, so priceless
Irreplaceable
Unmistakable,
Incomparible
Darling, it’s beautiful
I see it all in you!

God sees you whole!  He sees you dressed in purity and righteousness!   He sees you as PRICELESS!  He sees you “more than all the money or the diamonds and pearls [because] this is who you are” (“Priceless” lyrics).

As you walk down the aisle to become the Bride of Christ, remind yourself you have worth in Him, not in man.  Being single is not a curse but a blessing.  You are never alone when God is in your life.  He sees you, and He says you are beautiful in His sight!

Owning Who You Are In Christ!

Lately, I have felt that I’m not good enough in many areas of my life. But God says, “you are good enough”. “You are good enough for Me to let My Son die on the cross. You are good enough even when someone bullies you or misjudges you for who you are.”

God sees value in you! He sees beauty in you! God loves you every day of every moment of your life. Own it!!! Because God has always called you His Child! You are good enough for Him!

Please take a moment and watch this video:

Who Is Jesus To YOU?

A few weeks ago I posted on Facebook asking my family and friends to describe Jesus in one word.  The responses I received were overwhelming.  Here are some of the ways they described Jesus:

  • (My) Rock
  • Savior
  • Shepherd
  • Advisor
  • Comforter
  • Life
  • Infinite
  • Tree
  • (My) Everything

Wow!  That’s breathtaking!  If you could make a list of who Jesus is to you, what would you write down?  Would it describe Jesus for who He really is?  He is a one-of-a-kind God who died for our sin.  He is a miracle-worker, all-powerful God!

The one I love the most is: He is our TREE.  Jesus is what keeps us standing strong when we are weak.  He keeps us rooted when we are falling apart.  He helps us withstand the winds when life hits us the wrong way.  He is our Tree….

Jesus is our EVERYTHING!  He is an INFINITE being who gives us LIFE.  He is our SAVIOR and COMFORTER in time of need.  He is our ADVISOR when we need someone to talk to.  And, last but not least, Jesus is our SHEPHERD leading us in His ways.

Now that is powerful!  Who does not want to follow a God who is all these things and much more?!  We need to live a life that describes Jesus in a mighty way.  We do not need to serve a God who looks puny, but a God who is omnipotent.  A God who has unlimited power and is able to do anything.

For me, Jesus is:

  • Protector
  • Physician (Healer)
  • All-Consuming
  • Sacrificial-Love
  • Peace

FRIDAY CHALLENGE:  Take a minute to write down who God is to you.  I encourage you to put in your Bible for safe keeping.  The next time you feel disappointed or unloved, pull it out of your Bible and read what you wrote about Jesus.  Let those words encourage you through prayer and/or meditation.

Facing Challenges

We all face challenges in life.  It could be mental, emotional, or physical.  Hardship sometimes causes us to have unhealthy emotions.  When we face challenges, the devil tries to convince us that it is impossible to overcome it.  We begin to doubt ourselves and feel defeated.  Satan wants us to lose the power and authority we have with God.  But the Lord wants us to feel empowered to overcome any obstacle that comes our way.  In Isaiah 41:13 says, “For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, ‘Do not fear; I will help you.’”  We are not alone in our battles!  God is with us every step of the way.

The decisions we make during hardships are crucial.  Our choices determine our future.  Our emotions can get in the way of making good decisions.  We can easily become impatient and angry.  We have to learn how to control our emotions to have a clear mind.  We must always be in prayer with every step we take to be an overcomer through Christ.  When we feel overwhelmed with our emotions, we need to “cast all [our] anxiety on [God]” (1 Peter 5:7).  We need to go to God in prayer so He can remind us He has already given us peace.  We just need to declare His peace over our lives!  In John 14:27, Jesus says, “I am leaving you with a gift–peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” 

Philippians 4:13 is a powerful Scripture that is well known and often misunderstood.  It states, “I can do all this through Him [, God,] who gives me strength.”  We cannot be overcomers through our own strength.  The only way we can overcome obstacles is through God.  We cannot do it alone!  We need God!

When we face challenges, God promises us rewards.  James 1:12 tells us “blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”  The Bible says “that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:3-4).  We not only get rewarded, but we build our character through hardship.  We grow in our faith and learn who we are as an individual.

The Bible promises us “that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).  I encourage you to persevere “so you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:4).  I pray you stay strong in your faith.  Do not let the devil get you down.  God is on your side and will always be there for you!

Declaration: You are a conqueror through Christ!

Our Past Is Just Our Past

I have learned something valuable this week. Your past does not hinder you from living for today. Yes, your past tells a story about who you used to be, but it does not determine who you are today. Your past is just that–your past.

We all have a history we would love to erase, but God intended it to be a testimony. It may not look pretty, but, in God’s eyes, our past is just a moment when we were beautifully broken, desperately needing His presence.

Let our past remind us of who God is in our lives, and how He turns something ugly into something beautiful.

Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

“Beautifully Broken”

Recently, I started reading a book called, “The End of Me” written by Kyle Idleman.  So far, it has been an incredible book about the beauty of being broken in the presence of God.  Jesus becomes real in our lives when we are broken for Him.  It is when we come to the end of ourselves that God shows up to pick up the pieces of our lives to put them back together one-by-one.  In Luke 9:24, it states that “whoever loses life will find it.”

In this book, the author portrays a beautiful picture of what brokenness really looks like.  In Luke 7, Jesus is having dinner with a religious leader, Simon.  Simon has disregarded all tradition by not greeting Jesus with a kiss on the hand, washing his feet, and anointing his head with oil.  Simon is rich and the people feared him so he intentionally did not honor Jesus as his guest in his home.  Simon wanted to be the master of his home, not Jesus.  At one point in the middle of dinner, a sinful woman enters Simon’s home uninvited.  She heard through the crowds Jesus was in town and was having dinner with Simon and other religious leaders.  While everyone else looked at her with judgment, Jesus looked at her with unconditional love.  She did not focus on the disgruntled faces around her and allowed Jesus’ love to overwhelm her.  You see, Jesus saw “her as beautifully broken” while the others saw her as tainted and untouchable (“The End of Me”).

The woman kept her eyes focused on Jesus and knelt at Jesus’ feet.   She began to weep uncontrollably and, with her tears, she cleaned His feet.  She let down her hair and dried His feet.  She then took an entire bottle of perfume and poured it on Jesus’ feet.  In this moment, “she offers all that she has, because He has changed all that she is” (“The End of Me”).  A prostitute, known for our profession, “has become a living embodiment of cleansing” (“The End of Me”).  Jesus tells her that her sins are forgiven (Luke 7:48).  Her brokenness is recognized, and she is made whole again.  What an incredible imagery of being made whole in Christ in just one moment.

“Brokenness often overflows with hidden beauty.  It is redemptive by design” (author unknown).  The moment Jesus forgave the woman from all her sins, it was redemption.  She was not ashamed of her past; she boldly walked into a religious leader’s home to have a moment with Jesus.  This Biblical story reminds us to never be ashamed to bear our scars in the church or around our family and friends.  Our past tells a story of redemption–of who we were and who we are today.

If you look closer in the story of Luke 7, we see that Simon is carrying around brokenness as well.  He is so arrogant about his status that he refused to greet his guests with traditions.  He does not respect who Jesus is and only invited Jesus to dinner out of obligation.  Instead of receiving a blessing from Jesus, he received a rebuke from Him.  The sinful woman knew that she was broken and needed Jesus’ forgiveness, but Simon, on the other hand, did not recognize his brokenness.

Romans 3:23 states that we “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  The truth is, we are all broken people who need Jesus.  We can complete this sentence: “We are the people who _________________________________________” (“The End of Me”).  Who have debt, ignored the hurting, looked down on others, etc.  We are the kind of people who wants to avoid being honest with ourselves.  “Most of us have some conception, in our heart to hearts, that a lot of the pieces never seem to be mended.  But we will go to great lengths to avoid the full, honest embrace of our condition” (“The End of Me”).  “The only solution for being broken is brokenness.  Brokenness is the way to wholeness.” (“The End of Me”).

APPLICATION

When was the last time you recognized your brokenness and knelt at Jesus’ feet overwhelmed by His love for you?  Are you avoiding the brokenness that keeps on pulling you down and telling you lies about yourself?  It’s time to bear your scars and be real with God and others about your past or present life.  It’s time for you to be whole again through Christ.

PRAYER

“God, take my broken pieces and remold them into what seems best for you” (“The End of Me”).  Lord, help me to be vulnerable and bear my scars so I can be mended and whole again.  In Your Name, Amen!